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TSA’s recommendations for airport screener safety

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) released recommendations Wednesday designed to improve workplace safety after the shooting death of a federal airport screener in Los Angeles last year.

(George Frey/Reuters) (George Frey/Reuters)

The recommendations fall into three areas: enhanced training, communications and employee support; equipment and technology; and the use of law enforcement officers at airport checkpoints.

Transportation Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez, 39, was killed inside Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Nov. 1. Two others were injured. The suspect, Paul Anthony Ciancia, carried a letter that said he made a “conscious decision to kill”  TSA employees, according to the federal agency.

The recommendations are outlined in “Enhancing TSA Officer Safety and Security at Airports: Agency Actions and Path Forward.” They include mandatory active-shooter training for employees; routine testing of alarms that “alert authorities of the presence of an imminent threat of bodily harm;” and standards for increased police or security guard presence at checkpoints and ticket counters during peak times.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (Miss.), the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said the report is “a good first step toward making the traveling public and the Transportation Security Officers more safe and secure.”

But he noted “lingering concerns about the ability of TSA personnel to communicate with first responders during emergencies.”

J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents the officers, said the union “appreciates the first steps TSA has taken … but today’s report does not go far enough to address the immediate threat posed by individuals who target our officers.”

He repeated his call for ” an armed, uniformed law enforcement unit within the agency to provide the best possible security for our Transportation Security Officers at the airport checkpoints.”

The report concludes with a sobering tone:

“The agency’s actions are aimed at seeking to prevent, to the greatest extent possible, a recurrence of this tragedy, while recognizing that the next attack may take a different form.”

Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.

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